Demolition of Original Parts of "Ugliest Resort In The Alps" Begins

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SAM Magazine--December 1, 2006, Snowhunter--"Where to Ski and Snowboard", one of the world's leading guidebooks to ski resorts around the planet, is well known for pulling no punches. In its very first edition, back in 1994, the "skier's bible" labelled the French resort of Les Menuires 'The Ugliest Resort in the Alps'--in contrast to the resort's marketing material optimistically, which described the vaguely semi-circular main concrete structure as "the smile of the Alps."

By 1997, the editors had arrived at the solution, "One day, we confidently predict, they'll simply knock the whole thing down and start again."

The bulldozers moved in on November 21, to demolish the apartment block Les Clarines. In its place, the highly regarded Alpine property developer MGM is to build a chalet-style development, using wood and stone finishes that fit in well with the natural local environment in common with a wealth of new building across the French Alps over the past decade. The new development will be finished a year from now.

Dave Watts, co-editor of "Where to Ski and Snowboard," commented, "We saw the need for this bold step almost a decade ago; I'm delighted that Les Menuires has taken it at last. More recent developments on the outskirts of Les Menuires have been built in a much more sympathetic fashion, and we have always liked the local slopes, so it is great news that they are starting to knock down the central core and start again."

Les Menuires is one of seven key resorts in the Three Valleys, the world's largest ski area. It was was built as part of a huge investment by the French government and the regional council of Savoie to boost the economy of Alpine communities after World War II. Work started on construction of Les Menuires in 1964, and the resort was fully functional by 1967.